Andre Ayew’s winner sends Swansea into Championship play-off spot

Andre Ayew’s winner sends Swansea into Championship play-off spot

Swansea returned to the Championship play-off places as they came from behind to beat relegation-threatened Wigan. Wigan took an early lead when Nathan Byrne smartly finished a counter-attack.

Swansea levelled less than three minutes later, Conor Gallagher setting up fellow loanee Rhian Brewster to score his first goal since joining from Liverpool.

The Swans pushed for a winner in the second half and Andre Ayew provided it with a cheeky backheel.

The result lifts Swansea up to fifth place in the Championship, while Wigan remain second from bottom of the table, still two points away from safety.

Paul Cook’s side may feel this was a missed opportunity to gain at least a point in their fight for survival, but Swansea were good value for their victory.

They had come into this match with high hopes after a productive January transfer window so far, with head coach Steve Cooper making full use of his contacts from his previous role in charge of England’s Under-17s.

Three members of Cooper’s 2017 Under-17 World Cup-winning squad – Brewster, Gallagher and Chelsea defender Marc Guehi – have joined this month, and the two who started against Wigan, Brewster and Gallagher, made a big impression.

Gallagher, who had excelled on loan at Charlton earlier this season, slotted seamlessly into the Swans’ midfield, helping the hosts make a vibrant start to the game.

But it was Wigan, with just one win in their previous 15 matches, who took the lead after 16 minutes.

The visitors sprang a counter-attack on the left wing and Kieran Dowell played a low cross to right-back Byrne, who was allowed to wander into the middle of Swansea’s penalty area, take a touch and pick his spot with a calm finish.

Wigan’s joy was short-lived. Less than three minutes later, Gallagher threaded a fine through ball to Brewster, who swept a low left-footed finish into the far corner to score his first goal in senior football.

There was a buzz to the game at this point, played at quick pace with chances at both ends, Wigan’s Joe Garner and Swansea’s Ayew both heading wide from promising positions.

Although the tempo slowed a little, there was still plenty of goalmouth action in the second half, albeit more contained to the visitors’ penalty area.

Bersant Celina, Kyle Naughton and Gallagher all went close with shots on goal as Swansea began to take control of the game.

And it was Celina who was the architect of the decisive goal, darting down the left wing past Byrne and pulling the ball back to Ayew, who deftly back-heeled it into the net to score his 12th goal of the season.

Swansea were relatively comfortable from that point and, apart from Byrne’s half-volley in added time which whistled narrowly over, Wigan seldom looked like salvaging a draw.

 

Source: wires

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